A setback and a recipe for Harissa

Harissa paste

In my last post I vowed to be more adventurous in the kitchen and to try a brand new recipe every week. But in doing this I forgot what a frustrating process it can be when recipes just don’t work. As an example, this week I earmarked Yotam Ottolenghi’s braised cabbage with miso where you cook a small white cabbage for four hours and apparently create some kind of heaven. I set to it, very smug because I was destined to fulfil two of my New Year’s resolutions in one fell swoop (new, interesting recipe, eat more greens).

But the result was disastrous, just a shrivelled, brown, acrid mess that could barely be identified as cabbage. I was gutted, I followed the recipe precisely but my greens were inedible and I had to have a beer to sooth the disappointment (thus breaking my ‘cut down on alcohol’ resolution).

I’m not going to give up just yet though because you do have to try new things. If you don’t life becomes turgid and boring and you turn into one of those households who eat the same meals on the same day every week (baked potatoes on a Monday, sausages on a Tuesday, fish on a Friday etc etc) which is akin to counting down the hours until death in my opinion.

To make up for it I did have some success with a lamb and apricot tagine from Lindsay Bareham’s ‘Just One Pot’ but I need to tinker with the recipe before I can confidently post it on this blog. I’m also going to try a Nigel Slater version in the next couple of weeks.

I did however make my own harissa paste for the tagine and it was delicious. I was unable to find any in Tesco so I trawled through my recipe books and found this recipe in Rick Stein’s ‘Seafood lovers’ guide’.

PS. The red blobs in the photo above are the harissa paste.

Harissa paste (from Rick Stein’s ‘Seafood lovers’ guide)

Makes enough to fill a small 150g jar

  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • 2 red chillies, roughly chopped, seeds removed
  • A pinch of saffron strands
  • ¼ of a teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • ¼ of a teaspoon of salt

Cut the red pepper in half, remove the stalk and seeds, and place under a hot grill until the skin turns black (this should take somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes). Once the pepper is cool enough to handle peel off the skin and roughly chop.

Put the pepper into a food processor with all the other ingredients and blitz until you have a smooth paste.

You can keep the paste in a sterilised jar in the fridge covered with a thin layer of olive oil for several weeks.

Use to finish off your tagine – recipe coming soon.


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